I’ve Never Heard That I Could Request School Files

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I read an IEP guide that says you can request a copy of the student’s file. I have never heard of that before.

Can I request a copy of the files from my child’s school? Before requesting anything, I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.

The law that governs your right to view your child’s records is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The purposes of FERPA are twofold:

  • to ensure that parents have access to their children’s educational records
  • to protect the privacy rights of parents and children by limiting access to these records without parental consent

Under FERPA, parents have a right to have access to their children’s educational records.

FERPA requires that the school comply with a parent’s request for access to the student’s records within 45 days of the receipt of a request.

You are not automatically entitled to copies of your child’s records, except under specific circumstances. You may be charged a fee for the copies.

Generally, a school is required to provide copies of education records to a parent if the failure to do so would prevent the parent from exercising the right to inspect and review the records.

The Federal Regulations implementing IDEA also address “Parental entitlement to educational records.”

Access Rights- See 34 CFR 300.613(a) which states that parents must be permitted to

“inspect and review any education records relating to their children,”

and that if a parent requests those records,

“The agency must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP. . .”

The regulation is located on page 272 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition.

You need to read the FERPA statute and regulations. See Chapter 9 in your law book, pages 307-318.

Now you know you can request and review your child’s education record.

14 Step Guide for Record Review

To request your child’s records, write a polite businesslike letter asking for a copy of your son’s file.

In the letter, ask if the school has a photocopying fee and what this fee is.

Include a short paragraph about your son that explains your request.

For example you may say that he is in the 11th grade, is reading at the 2.5 grade level, and that you are afraid he will graduate from school and not be able to read.

Keep your letter short – one page. Offer to help with the photocopying. Offer to pick up the records.

Here’s a step by step guide. 14 Tips for Reviewing Your Child’s Records


  1. I requested a copy of my child’s school record and the principal responded by asking which specific records I would like to have. Is there more than one record I should be requesting? Is there just one specific file with all information relating to her education?

    • Brandie, Typically a child receiving special education services has a special education file that may not be kept on that campus. Often parents must make records requests to the district special education for those records.

  2. I have tried numerous times to receive my sons file from his elementary school . He will be going into middle school & I need the file to move to the middle school ; however I want to go through his file prior to moving the file over . Is this breaking the law on their part not handing the file over … Can law enforcement help me after I have tried for so many days ? My child has an IEP & receives language/speech services…

    • If you have not reached out to the district special ed director, I suggest doing that. Typically a district has procedures for moving folders to the next campus.

  3. in addition to requesting my child’s file with the school is there a way for me to request specific teachers files? I ask this because there seems to be a track record through years past of targeting certain individuals. I was just wondering if any complaints I’ve been filed on a specific teacher my daughter has. I feel this teacher has discriminantly done actions to aggravate her anxiety to Insight incidents that were documented with me but the school has no record of. I need to know if this teacher has track record of targeting specific students

  4. My sons school is refusing to release part of my sons file. I believe there was enrollment fraud and they refuse to release the information I need to review.

  5. I am having the same issue with my son. I requested in writing for my sons file so that I can go over everything in preparation for our IEP meeting. School decided to charge me $2.00 for each copy. I told them that they cannot charge and its against the law. The reply was well we are taking time away from our busy day and the other students to give you something. Its as if they do not care about my son. Constantly I remind them that my son is part of that school and I pay taxes for that school. School won’t give me the file until I pay them what they are requesting. What should I do?

    • This is taken directly from the parent rights they give me before each meeting
      8. Only be charged a fee for copies of records if the fee does not effectively prevent you from exercising your right to inspect and review those records;

      Perhaps check your parental rights document for additional documentation to show them.

  6. I don’t know how to handle how my records request turned out. The very staff member I was most distrustful of and had a lot of conflict with was the director of special services. Before I received the inter-staff emails regarding my son, she made the computer department who did the search give her the usb first, saying she would give it to me. Conflict of interest! I was told it was to protect from accidental inclusion of other students’ info, however I received tons of other student info; subject lines were obvious too! There were a lot of odd gaps in email convos re: my child where there shouldn’t have been, especially the director’s emails. I did receive a lot of proof of tampering with evals, but some of the key information I needed for proof was removed before I received the usb.

    • There are two sides to every coin. You made a written request for all the records, and as far as the facts go, you can assume they gave you all the records. Later down the road, if records show up that you do not have a copy of, you can question, and document that the record must have been created after the fact, otherwise, it would have been on that USB drive.

  7. Always request a copy of your childs file, its your right because its about your child. Especially if youve had a bad experience w/ a school district(common problem), because they might add or change pages(happened to us) to make you look bad or for them to look good. You also cant always trust that a school is going to always remember to send a copy to your next school district, so always have one to submit to the new school district. If they do send it, youll be able to match up the records to check for erroneous and/or missing or added pages. If a district tries to make you feel like or tells u its not allowed, they are lying, lots of parent(s) or guardians do this. Its not solely school property, at all! By the way, u cant advocate for your child if you dont have the files. Remember, the schools demand you give them medical information about your child and they want you to give your childs educational(issues) information, also so they can place all this in your childs records. In this, its your right to get information your school district has placed in your childs records, also. This means you have every right to your kids file, period. Its illegal for them to keep the records from you. Good luck.

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